Here at the beginning of this new Sunday School year, may I offer you a challenge, an encouragement, and a reminder of the most fundamental part of what God has called us to do as Sunday School teachers? The main thing we have been called to do is teach the Word of God. Yes, we lead our groups in nurturing a desire to grow. Yes, we lead our groups in organizing to serve. Yes, we lead our groups in reaching new people. Yes, we lead our groups in keeping our people connected. But the most fundamentally important task we have is to faithfully study the Word of God together. It is from this discipline that we understand the importance and necessity of all the others.
Take pride in that task and calling. Find your identity in doing it well. Let’s look at a particular passage in light of some of the wonderful nuances with which different translations allow us to deepen our understanding of it. Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:1.
New International Version
This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.
In this passage, Paul is teaching the Corinthians how to understand his and Apollos’ role in their discipleship, so that they can understand their own role in discipling others. We as teachers are to be understood as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. I love that language. We are servants entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed to mankind. This is true of all believers as we live out the biblical mandate to make disciples of others. However, James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” In light of this serious admonition, we can only understand that this message we have been given to teach…is of the highest importance. In the same passage, 1 Corinthians 4:1, the ESV uses a different phrase than those “entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.”
English Standard Version
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
It uses the word “stewards”. A steward is one to whom a responsibility has been given. A steward is one who has been tasked with the management of a resource. Proverbs 4 : 20-22 says, “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body.”
We are servants of Christ entrusted to manage the resource of the words of life.
The NLT translates 1 Corinthians 4:1 using the phrase “put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.”
New Living Translation
So look at Apollos and me as mere servants of Christ who have been put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.
The most simple and straightforward understanding of what it means to execute that charge…is to explain…to explain the words of life. To teach them.
This precious privilege that we have been charged with is to explain the words of life to men and women and children who are growing in their faith as they become fully devoted followers of Christ.
Which leads us to 1 Corinthians 4:2.
Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
Let us be faithful in our stewardship of explaining the words of life my friends.